Running should be fun and simple. It’s way too easy to become bogged down in the rigid details of a training program to take a step back and exercise like we would if we were 12 years old again. The following speed workout is based loosely on the 50 meter challenge used in some masters swim programs and outlined in my 1/21/11 blog post. It incorporates very high intensity short duration sprints with short recoveries. I use it for my athletes in their peak training phase or anytime they are getting stale. I would use a similar workout set with slightly shorter work sets (read: 30 second challenge) and longer recovery periods in an early season training phase.
Here’s the rules:
1) Find an open road or pathway with a 1/4 mile straight away. Road should be flat or low grade incline.
2) After a good warm up, rip a 1-minute sprint at an effort that is not quite maximal effort, but a sprint that could be sustained for several repeats. Be sure to mark both your starting line and your “finish line”. The finish line is nothing more that where you were at with the clock hit 60 seconds on your first marker set. You can get official with this and bring chalk or just drop a water bottle or hat to mark the spot. This is the line you will try to reach during each of the following sets.
3) Very easy jog back to the start.
4) Start the clock for another 60 second sprint. If you make it to the finish line in time, repeat steps three and four. If not, jog back to the start and sit out a turn by waiting 60 seconds before you start again. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
A beginner might log a set of 15, while an experienced athlete could target 30. Remember that you are skipping a turn anytime you don’t hit your target. This means you’ll likely actually run only 70 to 85% of your sets.
I introduced this workout to my Team in Training triathlon team last year in what proved to be one of those warm torrential summer down pours that are more common in South Florida than here in Minneapolis. The group still had a blast with the workout and stayed until the very last set. That same tri team will be tackling the 1 Minute Challenge tonight in much dryer conditions.